Fears of Violence as PNG Forces Attack Refugee Camp

Fears of Violence as PNG Forces Attack Refugee CampFears of Violence as PNG Forces Attack Refugee Camp

Concerns for the safety of hundreds of refugees have been raised after Papua New Guinea security forces stormed a former detention camp and forcibly removed about 600 men who refused for weeks to leave.

Australia closed the Manus Island detention center on Oct. 31, after it was declared illegal by a PNG court, but the asylum seekers refused to leave to transit centers saying they feared for their safety, Al Jazeera reported.

Despite the unsanitary conditions and lack of adequate food and fresh water, about 300 remained when Papua New Guinea police started removing people on Thursday and Friday.

Once the hour was up, officers swept through the facility destroying personal property and supplies of food and water that had been donated by sympathetic locals.

Mobile phones and medicine for the sick was also allegedly destroyed by security officers.

Australia pays PNG and the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru to hold thousands of asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia who have attempted to reach Australian shores by boat since mid-2013.

"The immigration officers and so many special forces suddenly attacked the prison camp," a camp refugee said. "Immigration officers and police are destroying everything … The refugees are saying 'We're not going to leave this prison camp and go to another prison camp.'"

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull denounced the holdout by the refugees.

"They think this is some way they can pressure the Australian government to let them come to Australia. Well, we will not be pressured. I want to be very clear about this … We will not outsource our migration policy to people smugglers," Turnbull said.

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